Here is the big, huge, absolutely must not do: Never, at any point, let this recipe boil. Ever. If you do, you will be eating paste (double eww).
- 2 cups half and half (you can substitute whole milk or 2%, but do not go lower in fat than that)
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional, but delicious)
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but really delicious)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (if salted you may leave out the salt listed above)
1. Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract with 1 cup of the half and half. Whisk until it becomes smooth, probably a minute or two. Sometimes getting it all to combine can take some elbow grease, but this step will ensure a smooth and lump-free pudding.
2. In a medium sauce pan over medium/medium-low heat bring 1 cup of half and half until small bubbles form at the edge. Slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the hot half and half, whisking the entire time. You should take about a minute to pout the mixture, and make sure it is entirely incorporated and smooth.
3. Continue to heat and whisk until the texture just starts to thicken. This will usually occur at ~180F-190F. Lift the pan of the heat source and continue to whisk until your desired texture is achieved. For me, this is usually still a bit runny, since it will set up in the fridge.
4. Add the tablespoon of butter and whisk to incorporate. Pour into an attractive dish, cover with plastic wrap so it is touching the pudding (this prevents a skin from forming), and refrigerate until cold.
Once you get into the rhythm of making pudding this way--no eggs, no boiling, making a cornstarch 'slurry' before it gets heated--then you practically won't need a recipe.